And … I’m back.
And I’d love you to go here to check out my new blog on BarbieCollector.com!
I’ll be doing one new post each month, and if you like what you read, please leave a comment.
Good comments = future assignments = happy writer.
So, what have you been up to?
Folks, I got nothing. I’m resorting to jokes sent to me by my seventy-eight year old father.
“A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, ‘I’m sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.'”
“Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.”
“Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.”
Thank you! Thank you very much! I’ll be here all week!
I have some very annoying house guests right now.
The first is a young woman named Sarah. With an “h.” She gets mad if you forget the “h.”
The other morning after breakfast I said, “I have to go do some work now, Sara.”
She crossed her arms and looked at me. “It’s Sarah. With an ‘h.’ Why do you do that?”
I shook my head. “You heard the lack of an ‘h?’ How is that possible?”
“It’s my name,” she replied. “I know the difference between ‘Sara’ and ‘Sarah.’ Duh.”
Sarah with an h is not the kind of person who says “Duh.” When she does, she means it sarcastically, or as an insult. Sarah with an h is in her late 20’s, and she’s from the east coast. She hates LA. She went to a small liberal arts college where she majored in English, and she has worked as an assistant at a major publishing house. She just finished writing a a book based on her blog about her dog, Franny, who had an art show in Soho. She doesn’t understand why it’s taking me so long to write my book, or to get an agent. She doesn’t understand why I’m not successful, and why I keep deluding myself that I ever will be.
My other house guest is in his early 20’s. His name is Jayson, and he grew up in Minneapolis with a loving family that totally supports his various artistic pursuits. He majored in philosophy and art history, and after graduation he toured with a theater troupe that performed Shakespeare entirely in Pig Latin. Now he writes for one of those websites that recaps TV shows. He’s very funny, and always has the perfect witty retort, as well as an amazing wardrobe that makes him look effortless chic and hip without seemingly like he’s trying at all. Whenever I ask him how he pays for it all – he makes hardly any money writing for the website – he gives a vague answer about an aunt of his mother’s who left him some money. He’s out every night at gallery openings or clubs in Hollywood. He keeps telling me I should write a blog about sandwiches named after famous people.
My third house guest is Bill. He gets very annoyed if you ask him his age. He worked in the entertainment industry for years, but hasn’t been able to find work lately. He likes to pretend that he’s English, although everyone knows he grew up in New Jersey. He is very vain, and constantly uses my computer to goggle things like “best Botox in LA” and “celebrity eyeglasses.” He thinks I should write a spec script about a fundamental Christian vampire who falls in love with a quirky New York waitress.
It’s hard to write with them around. Sarah with an h is always looking over my shoulder, rolling her eyes and saying things like, “Really? A book about your life? What’s the market like these days for historical novels?” Jayson sits across the room clicking away on his laptop, laughing hysterically at his own clever writing. And Bill reclines in the big easy chair, flipping though Entertainment Weekly. He has the ability to read a magazine and hold a conversation at the same time. “Stakes? You’re working on your character’s stakes? The only stakes you should be thinking about are the stakes your vampire needs to avoid.”
Sometimes I manage to make them shut up and leave me alone for a few hours, and then I actually get some work done. But most of the time they’re here with me, in my head, yammering away as I try to work. Except Jayson, of course. He completely ignores me at all times, which makes me even more paranoid.
Do you have house guests who live in your brain and drive you crazy?
Tara: Oh, hey, Blog. How are you?
Blog: “Oh, hey?” Is that all you have to say?
Tara: What’s wrong? You sound mad.
Blog: What’s wrong? You disappear for weeks, and then you show up all friendly, “Oh, hey,” like I’m not supposed to notice or anything?
Tara: Okay – what is going on?
Blog: I can’t believe you could treat me like this. I thought you were better than that.
Tara: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Blog: It’s that book, isn’t it? You’ve been writing that book.
Tara: I never lied to you about the book. I told you I was writing a book.
Blog: But you used to write the book AND write me. So what happened? All of a sudden you’re in love with the book, and I’m out like last week’s loser on Project Runway?
Tara: You know I care about you. That hasn’t changed.
Blog: But you’re in love with that book, right?
Tara: Don’t compare yourself. It’s totally different. I don’t love the book more than you, it’s just …
Blog: What? The book is all literary and stuff, and I’m just a little amusement? I have feelings, you know.
Tara: Blog, come on. Stop it. Yes, it’s true, I have been spending a lot of time with the book lately. I needed to commit. It’s just something I had to do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still like you.
Tara: You each give me different things. The book is deeper.
Blog: Thanks a lot. I can be deeper, you know. You’ve never tried to be deeper with me.
Tara: I don’t want you to be deeper. I like you the way you are. You’re fun. You’re … easy.
Blog: Great. That’s what every blog wants to hear. “You’re easy.” I’m so glad I’m here for you to have your little fun with.
Tara: Look, I’m sorry. I know I haven’t been around as much lately, and that was wrong of me. But this is something I really have to do right now.
Blog: But I can help you. You need me, you know. You think you’re just going to write a book and ride off into the sunset? What about a platform, huh? What about publicity? What about an audience. I can give you all those things.
Tara: I know. I know. And I want those things – I really do. But right now, I can’t think about that. I just have to write!
Blog: So write me! You used to love writing me! You wrote me every day! We had fun. Don’t tell me you didn’t feel it, because I know you did.
Tara: I did. I still do. Why are you making me choose? I want both of you. Lots of writers have both.
Blog: But you have to give me something – a little attention, a post here and there. I’m not a saint, you know. I have needs too!
Tara: I’m sorry. I am. I know I’ve been neglecting you. But I do need you. I do want you there with me.
Blog: Words are easy. You of all people should know that.
Tara: I just … I need a little space right now. I just need to write the book. It’s going really well, and I don’t want to lose momentum.
Blog: Look. You do whatever you have to. I’m not going to hang around waiting for your scraps, is all I’m saying.
Tara: I understand. I’m going to try to make it work. I really am.
Blog: I don’t want empty promises. I want posts. That’s all I’ve wanted from you. It doesn’t have to be every day. Once a week is fine.
Tara: Really? You’re willing to do that?
Blog: Of course. I’m with you in this. I’m part of this. I want what’s best for you. Once a week. That’s all I’m asking. Can you do that?
Tara: Yes. I can. I promise. I’ll change. You’ll see!
Blog: All right. Good. I feel better now.
Tara: I’m glad. I’ve missed you, you know?
Blog: Don’t try to butter me up now. Go – write the book. But remember – once a week.
Tara: Thanks, blog. I won’t let you down.
Blog: And chocolate works, too. Just so you know.
We have a new cat. It took a while after Blanche died for us to feel we were ready, but about a month ago I started to think it might be time.
We heard about a little ginger kitten that a friend of a friend had found. I guess I’m a sucker for a story of plucky survival – the kitten had been abandoned by his mother, and his father had tried to attack him. He survived by hiding in the rafters of the garage. After the man found him, it took several weeks before he was able to coax the cat to come to him, and a few more before he could get the cat inside. But after all of that, the man couldn’t keep him – he already had two cats, and three had pushed him into that scary “single guy with several cats” territory. He needed to find a home for the kitty. I’ve always had a soft spot for ginger cats, so I said we’d take him.
At first, when the cat arrived at our house, we thought we had adopted an invisible cat. We didn’t see him for two whole days. But then we noticed a lightning fast red streak that sped past us to the litter box. A little later, the red streak darted over to the food bowl, and we could see that he was indeed an actual cat. Slowly, he started spending a little more time with us. By the fourth morning, he had jumped up on the bed and was demanding head rubs before he disappeared for most of the day. That night he emerged and joined us to watch a little TV.
We decided to name him “Aldo,” after our favorite coffee shop on the east coast. He’s a classic red tabby – an orange creamsicle cat. I’ve always loved orange cats, and at first I worried that I was picking this cat for the wrong reasons. I didn’t really know anything else about him, other than what he looked like. I was afraid – was I making an impulsive choice, based solely on his looks?
Even though Blanche was absolutely loony tunes and could be very difficult, she had a lot of personality. At times it felt more like she was a human roommate than a cat, and we knew she loved us. What if Aldo was a mean cat? Or a scared cat? Or even worse, an indifferent cat? What if we ended up not simply not liking Aldo? And what if I couldn’t stop comparing him to Blanche?
Blanche was tiny – she never weighed more than eight pounds, even after fifteen years. Aldo is six months old and he already weighs ten pounds. Blanche didn’t like to be held, and would struggle out of my arms. Aldo loves to be picked up, and protests when you put him down. Blanche was a scratcher. Aldo keeps his claws to himself. They’re two completely different cats. But was Aldo the right cat for us?
Now that’s he’s more comfortable, I can see Aldo is a pretty easy-going cat who seems to enjoy being with us. In fact, I’m now experiencing the classic writers block – a cat who wants to sit on the keyboard when I’m trying to write. But he’s very sweet when I move him off. He doesn’t bite or scratch. You never really know, but I think he’s going to be a very calm, well-adjusted cat. I think we lucked out. He’s not Blanche, but I think I’m okay with that. There will never be another Blanche. But now there’s an Aldo, and I’m going to enjoy getting to know him.
I just spent several days in my hometown of New York City. I haven’t lived there for a long time now, and in many ways it’s a very different city than the one I grew up in. It’s not just that they keep renaming all the subway lines (what happened to the “RR?” I miss hearing the conductor say “This is the ara, ara train.”)
New York is a city that seems to reinvent itself overnight. You go to sleep with a coffee shop on the corner, and the next morning it’s a hat store. I know that’s what makes the city so exciting and vibrant, but you can’t drink a beret, so off you go to find a new coffee shop. Yesterday is old news. You gotta move on. New York keeps you on your toes.
One morning I went out in search of my morning latte, and I decided to try a place my father had suggested. He said they had pastries from Balthazar, a very trendy high-end French restaurant with an amazing bakery, and it was where the locals went. Apparently it was tucked into an cramped turn-of-the-century building, and was filled with authentic New York City charm and character.
I was feeling pretty good as I sauntered into the cafe. I tossed out my order to the disinterested counter guy, maintaining the perfect mix between being civil and not looking like I cared. I felt like a real New Yorker again. I took my latte and delicious almond croissant and decided to go upstairs to the small loft area where there were several tables. As I made my way up the steep, narrow steps, I was excited, although I took care not to show it. I had a chic little scarf tossed over my all-black outfit, which I felt gave me a certain je ne sais quoi. I was home, baby! This was where I belonged, not LA, where I always felt like an awkward outsider. After all, I knew how to navigate this town. Nothing rattled me. As I reached the top step, I reflected that a real New Yorker —
WHAM! All of a sudden my arms flew up, my coffee went flying, and I was down on the floor on all fours. I watched my croissant land in the corner, right next to the trash. Apparently the top step was not where I thought it was. Two very trendy Manhattanites sat nearby, watching me. Had they been entertained by my little performance of Swan Lake, there at the top of the stairs?
I looked at the pair for a moment, thinking one of them might get up and come over, but they just went back to their conversation. I picked myself up, retrieved my latte, which somehow had kept it’s lid on and managed not to spill, and glanced at the croissant – my beautiful almond croissant from trendy Balthazar, which was now covered with authentic New York City dirt. I tossed it into the trash and walked past the coffee-drinkers. I tried to think of something to say as I passed by – “Next show at 10:00!” or “If you liked that, you should see my double back flip.” But I couldn’t come up with anything witty enough.
I went to a table in the corner and sat down with my coffee. My knee was bruised from where I fell on it, but not as bruised as my dignity. My je ne sais quoi had definitely left the building, taking any fantasies of myself as a chic New Yorker with it. I was who I was, and it didn’t matter what city I lived in, or what outfit I wore. It was obvious I didn’t belong here anymore. They all knew I was a fraud. A clumsy, bumpkin fraud from LA. I felt their pity, their contempt, their eyes boring into me.
I looked up at all the real New Yorkers, and I realized that absolutely nobody was looking at me. Nobody cared. It was already in the past. It was old news. And I suddenly realized that I didn’t care, either. Time to move on. Time to buy another almond croissant.
New York. It has a way of keeping you on your toes.